The Only Thing We Have to Fear is...

Everyone can finish the phrase, but it's true. Fear is the only thing we should be afraid of in this world.  When things work for me, it's when I just go straight at a thing. Not worrying about anything, just going after the goal or target without self-consciousness or concern over the outcome. When things go poorly for me, it's when I do the exact opposite and obsess over what people will think of me, or how things will turn out. 

It's so much easier said than done, but it's the only path. Our fears and worries are our only enemies. Things won't always work when you take the fearless approach, but things will never work if you don't. 

This is a daily practice and some days are better than others, but like anything else, it's a process. 

Storytelling Will Save Your Life

There was a time several years ago when I honestly considered suicide. It was a dark, rainy day New Jersey day and I had enough. I pulled off the road into a parking lot and literally broke down in my car. Nothing was working the way I wanted it to.  Everything was going wrong. I thought I made every mistake in the book. I was doomed. I looked around, and all the evidence pointed to the fact that my life was basically over so why keep going.

There was another time when I was a freshmen in college and I got a call from my mother back home and she told me that I received a letter from NYU, my dream school, and told me that I got accepted. I looked around, and all the evidence pointed to the fact that my life was basically perfect - what could go wrong now? I was in great shape physically, I had great friends and relationships and I just got accepted to the school I'd always wanted to go to. 

There is nothing like telling a good story.

In the two instances above my life was neither as good or as bad as I thought it was at the time. When I was really down in that parking lot, I was sitting in a car with a tank full of gas something that people struggle to do every day because (at that time) of high gas prices. I had a home to return to. I had family that loved me and I still had great friends and great relationships - I was just too wrapped up in the story I was telling myself to see that. 

And when I thought things were great there were plenty of things I was doing wrong.  Everything looked great through the lens I was looking through. The reality was that I was also an asshole and I wasn't building as strong of a foundation for the future as I should have been. 

Whenever things have been going poorly in my life it's usually because I was wrapped up in a bad story. It's not like the universe decides to shove us into the plot of a bad movie. No, it's just the stories we're telling ourselves - every time. 

This whole concept sounds really corny, I know, but it's true. Things are neutral. Things happen. The story we tell around those things decides everything. Tell yourself the right stories. Look at the world as objectively as possible and craft your mental scripts in a way that help you make the world better than when you got here. 

The ONLY Way to Build Trust

There are many keys to success and ways to build trust. What I've found that it boils down to is this one thing: Do you do what you say you will do more often than not?  

Everything else is nice but doing what you say you will do is the only way for people to trust you and believe anything you say.

I'm guilty of not delivering in this respect and it's hurt me in the past. I know with absolute certainty that the only way to turn other's perceptions of you around is to start delivering on your promises. Everything else is nice, but this is what counts.

It's never the sexy things that will get  you what you want whether it's wealth, fame, or respect. It always boils down to the fundamentals. Do what you say you will do or you're better off saying nothing at all. 

Bruce Lee was the Fucking Man Part 2

To start the year off, I went back to one of my favorite books Bruce Lee: Artist of Life.  It's a compilation of Bruce Lee's personal journals, letters, and essays.  I've been a Bruce Lee fan for years and most people still don't understand why.  This is a guy who came of age after WWII and the Korean war when there was a lot of animosity towards Asians in America.  Not only did he create a persona that survives in pop culture to this day, but he basically created the martial art movie genre.  Guys like Chuck Norris, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Jean Claude Van Damme, and Steven Segal have Bruce Lee to thank for their careers.  

Not only was he an entertainer, he was also a serious martial arts teacher and practitioner. It was never just for show. He believed that what he did on screen needed to come from a real place.  He taught or trained with many serious martial artists of the time and was a student of the legendary Ip Man.

Here are my favorite excerpts from the book, in Bruce Lee's own words: 

  • "The road to hell is paved with good intentions," and any intention toward idealistic change will achieve the opposite - the New Year's resolutions, the desperation of trying to be different, the attempt to control oneself, and so forth.
  • So if you are cursed with perfectionism, then you're absolutely sunk. This ideal is a yardstick which always gives you the opportunity to browbeat yourself, to berate yourself and others. Since this ideal is an impossibility, you can never live up to it. You are merely in love with this ideal, and there is no end to the self-torture, to the self-nagging, self-castigating. It hides under the mask of "self improvement." It never works.
  • Now I see that I will never find the light unless, like the candle, I am my own fuel, consuming myself.
  • A teacher, a really good teacher, functions as a pointer to truth, but not a giver of truth. He employs a minimum of form to lead his student to the formlessness. Furthermore, he points out the importance of being able to enter a mold but not being caged in it, or to follow the principles without being bound by them.
  • A good teacher cannot be fixed in a routine, and many are just that. During teaching, each moment requires a sensitive mind that is constantly changing and constantly adapting. The teacher must never impose a lifeless pattern, a preformation, on his student.
  • Many of you know that I am a martial artist by choice, an actor by profession, and, by daily actualizing my potential through soulful discoveries and daily exercising (in my case) I hope to become an artist of life.
  • Dedication, absolute dedication, is what keeps one ahead.
  • I feel best when I am showing my skill off to the audience. Why? Because, baby, I have worked my X off to be able to do just that, and that means dedication, constant hard work, constant learning and discovering, plus lots of sacrifices.
  • There are two ways of making a good living. One is the result of hard work, and the other, the result of imagination (which requires hard work too, of course). It is a fact that labor and thrift produce a competence, but fortune, in the sense of wealth, is the reward of the man who can think of something that hasn't been thought of before. In every industry, in ever profession, ideas are what America is looking for. Ideas have made America what she is, and one good idea will make a man what he wants to be.
  • When you drop a pebble into a pool of water, the pebble starts a series of ripples that expand until they encompass the whole pool. This is exactly what will happen when I give my ideas a definite plan of action.
  • Probably, people will say I'm too conscious of success. Well, I am not. You see, my will to do springs from the knowledge that I CAN DO. I'm only being natural, for there is no fear or doubt inside my mind. Success comes to those who become success-conscious. If you don't aim at an object, how the heck on earth do you think you can get it?
  • Just as the maintaining of  good health may require the taking of unpleasant medicine, so the condition of being bale to do the things we enjoy, often requires the performance of a few we don't. Remember my friend, that it is not what happens that counts; it is how you react to events.
  • You have a tendency to was a lot of energy in worry and anticipation. Remember my friend to enjoy your planning as well as your accomplishment, for life is too short for negative energy. 
  • So action! Action! Never wasting energy on worries and negative thoughts. I mean, who has the most insecure job, as I have? What do I live on? My faith in my ability that I'll make it. Sure, my back injury screwed me up good for a year, but with every adversity comes a blessing because a shock acts as a reminder to oneself that we must not get stale in routine.  Look at a rain storm; after its departure everything grows!
  • So remember,  that one who is possessed by worry not only lacks the poise to solve his own problems, but by his nervousness and irritability creates additional problems for those around him. Well, what more can I say but damn that torpedo, full speed ahead!
  • I feel I have this great creative and spiritual force within me that is greater than faith, greater than ambition, greater than confidence, greater than determination, and greater than vision.  It is all these combined. My brain becomes magnetized with this dominating force which I hold in my hand.